Powering down wind isn't the only answer for over-supply
By Rachel Shimshak
Renewable Northwest Project
Curtailing wind power — when an array of other solutions is available — is inconsistent with the innovation that national and local leaders are calling for. Alternative ideas include agreements with thermal generators to displace fossil fuel power. BPA has taken some good steps in this direction, but there is much more to be done. Also, BPA could explore improvements to its transmission operations, employ better forecasting techniques and pursue more cooperation with Canadian partners. And — working with biologists who understand what endangers fish and what does not — BPA could consider some additional spill of water over dams.
Oregon has long shaped its economy and recovery efforts around energy systems and our abundance of natural resources. When the Bonneville hydroelectric system was developed in the 1930s New Deal era, Oregon experienced economic benefits and much needed jobs for a strained workforce. The investment in the new energy system required innovation and unwavering vision. As a result, the Northwest enjoyed among the cheapest energy rates in the country and lesser dependence on more costly fuels. The link between energy, infrastructure and economic recovery could not be more poignant today.
BPA’s decision will determine the direction of Oregon’s clean energy economy. BPA should lead the region through the technical challenges associated with transitioning away from fossil fuels to cleaner energy. It is our hope that BPA will set its proposed over-generation policy aside and instead convene a regional action plan steering committee to collaboratively devise the best solution possible for consumers, the environment and the Northwest economy. All parties must innovate and work together to advance the clean energy economy that Oregonians want and deserve.
Rachel Shimshak is the executive director of Renewable Northwest Project.
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